I've always been a fan of a good text adventure; this probably comes from my first computer gaming experience, Myst (not a text adventure, but a good puzzler - if you haven't played, it's on GOG, check it out). I've been entranced by Zork, but it's rare to find a well-done text adventure like it.
Recently (within the past two weeks) a copy of
Wander by Peter Langston was
Wander bills itself as a game engine rather than as a game in
itself. It originally came with four worlds that could be played in. There is
now a version of the source code on GitHub which makes this probably
the oldest piece of software to be in Git.
Wander was originally written in
1974, a full two years before the Collossal Cave Adventure (typically referred
to as the oldest text adventure).
This version of
Wander builds perfectly on my system (though it will require
some adjustment to
Wanddef.h in order to run other worlds than the default,
Langston also wrote Empire in 1971, which Stallman specced out as part of his
plan for the GNU system (alongside a spreadsheet program, YACC, etc.) in his
1983 announcement of
In reading about this I came across a software distribution from Usenix conferences around 1980. I have mirrored it for your perusal. It contains the Wander game (with all four worlds), among many other things.
- An article detailing lost mainframe games. A commenter on this article (Doug Meritt) found the software archive I linked above.
- A blog post about the conversation with Peter Langston which resulted in these games being unearthed.
- The joyful post about finding the game. It contains a few more ways that the game has been distributed (a Windows binary, a version of Collossal Cave Adventure's world, etc.)